Archive for the 'Vayakhel' Category

The Mighty and the Weak

March 20th, 2006 by Yaakov Ellis

ויאמר משה אל-בני ישראל ראו קרא ה’ בשם, בצלאל בן-אורי בן-חור, למטה יהודה…ולהורת נתן בלבו: הוא, ואהליאב בן-אחיסמך למטה-דן

And Moshe said to Bnei Yisrael, see God has called by name Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur of the tribe of Yehuda…And he put in his heart that he be able to teach, him and Ohaliav son of Achisamach of the tribe of Dan

Shemot 35: 30, 34

Over the last several weeks, the Torah has made it quite clear who is the main architect of the mishkan: Betzalel. He has the know-how, he has the lineage. He is the man.

Among all of the other craftsmen who are mentioned in connection with building the mishkan, only one other is mentioned by name: Ohaliav. The obvious question: what is so special about Ohaliav that he is receives such a distinction?

Rashi comments on the passuk above (35:34): Ohaliav is of the tribe of Dan, which is one of the lowest of the tribes (in stature) as Dan was the son of Bilha, hand-maiden to Rachel. Despite the fact that he did not have the pedigree of Betzalel, God has made him on equal standing with Betzalel, who comes from the mightiest of tribes (Yehuda; he is also a descendent of Levi through his grandmother Miriam).

The message: when it comes to doing the work of the mishkan, building a place for people to feel God’s presence more acutely in this world, one’s kavana (intentions) are what matter, not ones yichus (pedigree).

(It is also interesting to note that when Shlomo was building the first temple, he also chose a master craftsman, Hiram of Tzur, who was from the tribe of Naftali – brother of Dan, son of Bilha – Malachim 1, 7:13-14).